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The Assassination

In 44 BCE Caesar started planning a campaign against the Parthian empire. Why is not known, but it could be that he didn't feel safe or at ease in Rome, that he preferred the life with his soldiers in the military camp, or that he still wanted more conquest with the personal honour and glory it brought with it. In either case, the Parthian campaign was not to be.

Flowers on the altar of Divus Julius
Flowers on the altar of Divus Julius

On the 15th of March (the famous Ides of March) he was called to a meeting in the senate, a meeting held in the Theatre of Pompey to discuss the preparations for the war against Parthia. On his arrival he was surrounded by a group of senators who pulled out knives from under their togas and stabbed him to death. Caesar was left dead on the floor at the feet of a statue of his friend and enemy Pompey.

The conspirators, who were led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, both followers of Pompey pardoned by Caesar after Pharsalus, rushed to the Forum Romanum, still covered in Caesar's blood, to be hailed as tyrannicides and saviours of the Republic. Caesar's co-consul Marcus Antonius and M. Aemilius Lepidus, both close allies of Caesar, and the senators not involved in the assassination, went into hiding not knowing what to expect, but the conspirators had no plans for what to do after the assassination.

The senate hurriedly passed and amnesty for the murder, and Marcus Antonius and Lepidus reconciled with the conspirators. Brutus and Cassius were not safe in Rome as the sentiments of the crowd turned against Caesar's assassins, and they were given governorships abroad so they could leave Rome. Marcus Antonius was allowed to hold a public funeral for Caesar in the Forum, and the his eulogy for Caesar inflamed the crowd and caused a riot. In improvised funeral pyre was made of furniture and other things at hand, and Caesars body burned in the middle of the Forum, where later the Temple of Divus Julius were built.

Marcus Antonius, who was still consul, moved quickly to take over from Caesar, expecting to secure his position as heir, but when Caesar's will was read to the senate, a little known nephew of his, Gaius Octavius, was adopted and made principal heir. Marcus Antonius, unwilling to accepts this, tried in dispute the legality of the will, and this conflict plunged Rome into yet another protracted civil war, which saw Octavius prevail in the end, becoming the first Roman Emperor under the name of Augustus.

This article has been split into 11 separate sections. Use the menu below to jump to another section.

  1. Introduction
  2. Caesar's Political Career
  3. The Alliance with Crassus and Pompey
  4. The Conquest of Gaul
  5. The Civil War
  6. Dictator and God
  7. The Assassination
  8. Caesar's Legacy
  9. The Julian Calendar
  10. Literature and Links
  11. Photographs of Julius Caesar

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This page is linked under the names "Julius Caesar", "Caesar", "Gaius Julius Caesar", "Gaius Iulius Caesar" and "Giulio Cesare".

Copyright © 2003 René Seindal, last changed 2003-08-28

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